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American Communist History Bibliography 2001

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Many labor scholars, today as in the past, advocate greater partici pation by members in decision-making as a cure for what ails the labor movement. A review of experience with such participation, however, shows that it has different consequences in different settings, and that it rarely performs as advocates would like. Four historical types of partici patory unionism can be distinguished: radical, craft, classic industrial, and comanagement. The first three have had many exemplars and have long since revealed both their advantages and their limitations; the last is the least developed and most related to current management trends, and therefore worth better understanding.
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I focus on representations of the 'Communist threat' in three sf B-films--Harry Horner's Red Planet Mars (1952), Alfred E. Green's Invasion USA (1952), and Coleman Francis's The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961). Rather than using metaphors such as alien invaders or giant insects (like so many films of that era), all three directly address Communism, using it as an important element in their plots. Yet while each invokes the threat of a dangerous Soviet enemy, each also raises the possibility that internal conflicts in the United States allow that threat to flourish, holding up a mirror to US flaws and weaknesses.
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The achievement of African-American former Communist Harold Cruse has become a reference point fora large measure of scholarship addressing Black Marxism and the communion between African-American and Jewish American leftists from the 1920s through the 1960s. Yet Cruse's work is marred by a lack of accountable documentation, allegations of offensive group behavior by Jews and Afro-Caribbeans, and the claim that Black Communist cultural workers produced art that was "integrationist" and middle class. The authority of Cruse's work stems from its anger about the failure of an adequate response to the cultural consequences of racism in the United States, which arises out of his personal experiences with African-American Communist writers of the post-World War II years. Therefore, an alternative means of appraising Cruse's claims is by placing them in the context of the imaginative work of other Black radicals - Chester Himes, Alice Childress,John O. Killens - who address similar issues, and whose creative writings dispute Cruse's characterizations.
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Revolutionary Memory is the most important book yet to be published about the vital tradition of leftwing American Poetry. As Cary Nelson shows, it is not only our image of the past but also our sense of the present and future that changes when we recover these revolutionary memories. Making a forceful case for political poetry as poetry, Nelson brings to bear his extraordinary knowledge of American poets, radical movements, and social struggles in order to bring out an undervalued strength in a literature often left at the canon's edge. Focused in part of the red decade of the 1930s, Revolutionary Memory revitalizes biographical criticism for writers on the margin and shows us for the first time how progressive poets fused their work into a powerful chorus of political voices. Richly detailed and beautifully illustrated with period engravings and woodcuts, Revolutionary Memory brings that chorus dramatically to life and set a cultural agenda for future work.
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Western scholars have traditionally shown great interest in the Stalinist period of Russian history. At a time when the number of works falsifying (consciously or unconsciously) our national history was increasing every year in the Soviet Union, Western historians produced much useful work as they attempted to thread their way through the intricacies of Soviet reality. This interest was prompted not only by the Soviet Union's status as the West's main adversary in the "cold war" but also by the presence in the USSR of a classic example of "actual socialism"—something that reached its logical culmination during the Stalinist period.
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Bolsheviks in Baltimore shows that contrary to the beliefs of many historians--radical and otherwise--the American Communist Party did often march to Moscow's tune in efforts to sway American foreign policy in ways that benefitted the Soviet Union.
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"Hapke's book, remarkable in scope and inclusiveness, offers those concerned with American working people a mine of information about and analysis of the 'rich lived history of American laborers' as that has been represented in fictions of every kind. She provides an invaluable foundation for understanding the dirtiest of America's dirty big secrets: the pervasivness of class differences, class discrimination, indeed of class conflict in this, the wealthiest nation in history. Hers is an indispensable guided tour through more than a century and a half of literary representations of 'hands' at their looms, pikets on the line, agitators on their soapboxes, ordinary working women, men, and children in kitchens, parks, factories, and fields across America." --Paul Lauter, A.K. & G.M. Smith Professor of Literature, Trinity College "Labor's Text sets over 150 years of the multi-ethnic literature of work in the context of the history that informed it--the history of labor organizing, of industrial change, of social transformations, and of shifting political alignments. Any scholar of American literature or American history cannot help but be enlightened by this boldly ambitious and illuminating book." -- Shelly Fisher Fishkin, professor of American studies, University of Texas, Austin "Labor's Text traverses nearly two centuries of the U.S. literary response in fiction to workers and the work experience. Casting her net more broadly than any of her predecessors, Hapke's revision of the genre includes many recent writing not usually recognized as part of the tradition. Coming at a moment when there is a steady increase in interest about 'class' from color- and gender-inflected perspectives, this is a work of committed scholarship that may well prove to be a crucial compass to reorient the thinking and scholarship of a new generation." -- Alan Wald, author of Writing from the Left "A stunning work of scholarship...It is an extraordinary achievement and an immense contribution to working-class studies." --Janet Zandy, author of Calling Home: Working-Class Women's Writings Laura Hapke is a professor of English at Pace University. The winner of two Choice magazine Outstanding Academic Book awards, she is the author of Daughters of the Great Depression: Women, Work, and Fiction in the American 1930s and other books on labor fiction and working-class studies.
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It is generally believed that the Commonwealth Government's efforts to ban public performances of Clifford Odet's play "Till the Day I Die" in 1936 were a response to objections by the German consul and that its policy was an aspect of appeasement. In this paper it is suggested that the government's response was not determined by the consul's protest but by its own desire to curb the activities of the Communist Party. The paper aims to show that the main objections to the play were its communist propaganda content and its presentation by New Theatre, a party front; that several other complaints of anti-German sentiment in films and plays made by the consul were not acted upon; and that the movers in the affair were not politicians but key figures in the Commonwealth Investigation Branch and their allies in other Commonwealth and state security agencies.
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En este artículo, Jeffrey M. Garcilazo examina la formación y las actividades del Comité de Protectión de los Nacidos en el Extranjero de Los Angeles durante la Era de McCarthy en los años cincuenta. El argumento trata sobre los esfuerzos del comité para proteger los derechos de los mexico-americanos de clase trabajadora en el sur de California y el resultado de este tipo de activismo. Al estar preparando la revisión de este ensayo, el autor sufrió un accidente médico que no le ha permitido terminar su trabajo. La Revista Western Historical Quarterly publica esta versión, la última que se recibió de Jeffrey M. Garcilazo, como reconocimiento de sus importantes contribuciones a la historia mexico-americana y del oeste. /// In this article, Jeffrey M. Garcilazo examines the formation and activities of the Los Angeles Committee for the Protection of the Foreign-Born during the McCarthy Era in the 1950s. The argument concerns the committee's efforts to protect the rights of Mexican American working-class people in Southern California and the outcome of this activism. While preparing revisions for this essay, the author suffered a medical accident that prevented him from completing his work. The Western Historical Quarterly publishes this version, the last received from Jeffrey M. Garcilazo, as an acknowledgment of his important contributions to Mexican American and western history.
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Preface Acknowledgments 1. Social Work: A Radical Profession? 2. Radical Social Work in the Progressive Era 3. The Spider Web Conspiracy and the Death of Progressivism 4. The Rank and File Movement and the Precursors to McCarthyism 5. Anti-Communism and the Attack on the New Deal 6. Social Work Response to McCarthyism 7. The Revival of Radicalism in Social Work 8. The Redefinition of Social Work Radicalism, 1970-1999--Part I 9. The Redefinition of Social Work Radicalism, 1970-1999--Part II 10. Social Work Radicalism at the End of the Twentieth Century 11. Conclusion--The Future of Radical Social Work in the United States Sources Index
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Religion has not been given serious consideration in examining Harry S Truman's conduct of the Cold War, yet throughout his administration the President sought to construct an international anti-communist religious front. This article examines Truman's approach to the World Council of Churches in Formation in 1948 as a means of examining a currently contentious area in Cold War historiography, the role and significance of religion. Marxist atheism provided a window of vulnerability, the Achilles' heel of communism from the West's religio-political perspective. It was hardly surprising, therefore, that Christianity was appropriated by Western propagandists and policy-makers for their anti-communist arsenal. Ironically, however, Truman's Cold War scheme was essentially defeated by the much older religious cold war between Catholic and Protestant. Nonetheless, Truman's intervention in the religious realm had profound repercussions for ecclesiastical relations and also on the course and nature of the burgeoning Cold War.
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Since the early part of the twentieth century, there have been selected colleges in the United States dedicated to the training of future leaders for labor unions. Four of the most prominent are Work Peoples' College, Duluth, Minnesota; Brookwood College, Katonah, New York; Commonwealth College, Mena, Arkansas; and Highlander College, Monteagle, Tennessee. Education at these colleges, including music education, ran counter to the educational establishment of their time. Issues of labor versus management, traditional versus nontraditional education, and structured (formal) curricula versus practical (informal) curricula are all in evidence. All four institutions had songbooks. An examination of archival copies of these songbooks, within the context of the curricula of the schools and the labor movement in the United States, shows that nearly all the songs were parodies set to the folk and popular tunes of the day. These songs provided a means through which to teach union solidarity and labor concepts. Music education at these colleges was generally done on an informal basis. Students developed their skills as lyricists, song leaders, and performers through sing-alongs and the use of music in drama. Nontraditional though this was, the practical music training the students experienced in these labor colleges produced powerful results in their unions.
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Social Text 19.2 (2001) 1-13 The interview with Grace Lee Boggs and the essays on W. E. B. Du Bois and Richard Wright in this issue of Social Text are selections from a forthcoming collection of recent work on the history of black radicalism: Rethinking Black Marxism. The collection is intended to fill a gap in our understanding of the politics of black radical activity during the twentieth century and to respond to a sense that the remarkable wealth of new work on the subject has marked a significant shift in historiographic orientation. More than twenty years ago, a number of historians began to revisit the participation of African Americans in the U.S. Communist Party, challenging the consensus of Cold War-period scholars, including Wilson Record and Harold Cruse, that -- in the memorable phrase of Mark Naison -- the story of blacks and communism was shot through from top to bottom with "manipulation, disillusionment, and betrayal." The "new historians" of organized communism, working with a "willingness to acknowledge the indigenous influences on party politics," offered a more sanguine view of the legacy of blacks in communism, noting in particular the sometimes subtle impact of African American radicals on party policy and practice at both the local and national levels. The growing body of scholarship that has emerged in the wake of this revisionist project has extended its focus on black participation in communist movements to take up the broader and interconnected field of black radical work, whether party-based or not, especially in the metropolitan centers of the West. The orientation of the historiography has largely shifted, in other words, from unraveling the intricacies of organized communism to elucidating the complex parameters of African diasporic radicalism in all its varieties. Recent work emphasizes, for instance, the common ground of radicalism inhabited in a place like Harlem in the 1920s by interacting and overlapping forces as diverse as Cyril Briggs's African Blood Brotherhood, Marcus Garvey's UNIA (Universal Negro Improvement Association), the socialist organizing of A. Philip Randolph and the group linked to the Messenger, W. E. B. Du Bois's nascent Pan-Africanism, Claude McKay's internationalist "vagabond" Bolshevism, and the antiracist campaigns of Walter White and the NAACP. The short-lived and still-mysterious African Blood Brotherhood has garnered a disproportionate amount of critical attention in this new work, as a "classic example" of an attempt to "organically conjoin Marxism and Black Nationalism," precisely because it embodies for a number of historians the quickly shifting object of study that is black radicalism. As Winston James has recently argued, if New Negro radicalism in the 1920s moved along a continuum from the vehement nationalism of the UNIA to the "orthodox" socialism of the Messenger, the African Blood Brotherhood swung productively between these poles, maintaining "a rather unstable equilibrium," but "at no point did it touch, let alone merge during its independent existence with, the politics represented at either end of the continuum." There is a turn here, an attraction both to what we might term the autonomy of black radical groups and to their theoretical grappling -- as fleeting or as fumbling as such work might be -- toward a position and a praxis that would attend to both class and race in promoting social transformation. This historiographic shift is not only a departure from party-centered considerations of radicalism; it is also a return: it indicates a renewed attention to the methodologies and strategies embedded within key works within the African diasporic intellectual tradition itself, such as W. E. B. Du Bois's Black Reconstruction (1935) and C. L. R. James's The Black Jacobins (1938). Du Bois and James -- in elucidating the "underground history" of a black diasporic engagement with and shaping of Western discourses of American postbellum Reconstruction, on the one hand, and eighteenth-century French revolutionary republicanism, on the other -- both insist on understanding the specific contours of black radicalism. As Grace Lee Boggs recounts, James gave an influential speech in 1948 to the Socialist Workers Party convention in New York that may be the most forceful crystallization of this perspective. Distinguishing the work of his small pressure group, the "Johnson-Forest Tendency," from...
Article
The traditional stance of youth services librarians has been strong advocacy on behalf of children's books that promote intergroup cooperation and international understanding. With the onset of the McCarthy era, however, books with an intergroup and international focus became politically suspect, and librarians found themselves confronting both unspoken and overt 'blacklists' of so-called subversive titles and authors. During the Cold War, librarians in the United States who served children and young adults were subject to demands from political pressure groups to remove or restrict books and other library materials viewed by those groups as pro-Communist propaganda. Many librarians succeeded in actively resisting these pressures. They did so, however, in ways that were largely invisible to their contemporaries outside the field. Thus far, their strategies of resistance have gone unnoticed by historians as well. ALA youth service leaders' rhetoric and strategies of resistance--quiet, positive, and active--effectively countered pressure groups' censorship efforts and, in doing so, maintained librarians' professional jurisdiction over the selection and evaluation of books for young readers.
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This article examines the ideological connections between the Left and the gay movement from the 1930s to the 1970s. Using the concepts of spillover, spin-off, and collective identity, I develop a model of social movement connections and splits that stresses the dialectical relationship between the individual identities of social movement participants and the collective identity of the movement within different organizational structures. Using this model, I argue that the organizational centralization of the Old Left in the Communist Party prevented early "gay" activists from extending the collective identity of the Left to accommodate issues of same-sex oppression; alternatively, the organizational fluidity of the New Left encouraged a more flexible understanding of collective identity, and same-sex oppression was incorporated into the rhetoric, albeit in a limited way and for a brief period. This model not only helps to identify the ideological innovations of the gay movement but also contributes to the recent social movement literature concerned with bridging the micro and macro levels of analysis.
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This article examines the formation of consciousness among women at the beginning stages of the women's movement. The author analyzes the complexity of pathways to feminism across the political spectrum, comparing women who were active on the Left in Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) with women active in the leading conservative organization of the 1960s, Young Americans for Freedom (YAF). She finds an unexpected division among women in both groups between those who identify discrimination by their male peers and those who do not. The author argues there are three stages in the formation of feminist consciousness: identification of inequality or mistreatment, discovering a language or framing by which to interpret these experiences, and the social construction of a collective identity. Factors for each of these three stages that help or hinder the formation of feminist consciousness are discussed.